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Rounds-Favored Northern Beef Packers Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Crockett and Tubbs—er, SDRC exec Joop Bollen and former Governor M. Michael Rounds
SDRC exec Joop Bollen and former Governor M. Michael Rounds

An eager reader alerts us to worse news from Aberdeen: after failing to pay its workers on time last week, Northern Beef Packers has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

This big business failure is brought to you by Joop Bollen and M. Michael Rounds, the latter of whom was counting on NBP as a last-minute legacy builder. As recently as this month, Senate candidate Rounds asserted that Northern Beef Packers would play a key role in supporting his abortive South Dakota Certified Beef program. Seriously, Mike? Smart businessman like you couldn't see bankruptcy coming? And you want us to trust you to write a federal budget?

If you hurry, you can still see NBP listed as one of the big projects of SDRC, Inc., the (strangely) private corporation created by Joop Bollen to handle the state's efforts to lure foreign investors with EB-5 visa assistance. Northern Beef Packers will likely soon disappear from that SDRC listing, as did the EB-5-visa-backed Veblen dairies after Rick Millner took them belly up.

Ken Santema says the failure of Rounds's big beef promotion shows the need for a Libertarian governor who doesn't waste taxpayer dollars trying to pick winners in the free market. I would suggest Ken start beating the bushes for a Libertarian Senate candidate as well to keep Rounds from taking his crony capitalism to Washington... or just join me in supporting Rick Weiland to achieve the same end.


  1. James Snyder 2013.07.22

    Really? because they file for bankruptcy you blame Rounds or hint to it? Pathetic.

  2. James Snyder 2013.07.22

    Where's your article about Obama and the failed "alternative energy" companies then?

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.22

    Hey, James, are you paying attention? This is a South Dakota blog. Mike Rounds was a South Dakota governor who was instrumental in promoting NBP, a South Dakota company. Rounds is running for Senate. Rounds will want to run on his legacy as governor, but the failure of NBP and of the closely connected SD Certified Beef program are important elements of the overarching story that Rounds has no legacy on which to run.

    Solyndra is irrelevant here. Obama is irrelevant except to the extent that he allows the EB-5 visa program to continue. "Pathetic" better describes the effort to distract voters from Mike Rounds's political failures.

  4. Kevin J. Weiland 2013.07.22

    Cory, you need a "LIKE" button at the end of your post.

  5. DB 2013.07.22

    How many business does Weiland own and operate? How many businesses has he tried to run? What real world experience does he have? If rounds isn't a smart businessman, than that must make Weiland close to being an elementary student on the topic. We have enough know-nothing, do-nothing career gov't employees. We don't need Weiland adding to the bunch.

  6. Rick 2013.07.22

    That's not hard to look up, DB, if you had bothered to try.

    Weiland and his immediate family members are presently involved in running two restaurants that are successful and considered highly esteemed in Sioux Falls.

    He was very successful as CEO of International Code Council for nearly 10 years, taking it from its merger days of America's three major building code organizations and expanding its scope and reach as America's premier building and fire-life safety codes company with four national offices and business relationships in virtually every state and several foreign nations. It's a very impressive company and building and fire code officials in every South Dakota city that enforces building codes are members.

    Prior to that he ran the Region 8 FEMA office in Denver and proved himself very resourceful to Gov. Bill Janklow in times of storm disasters, especially the F4 tornado that wiped out much of Spencer, South Dakota. This was a complex and very challenging position in which Weiland excelled and set an excellent example of managing employees, maneuvering federal government resources and working with businesses, local governments and state governments to get communities back on their feet.

    I'm not going to take away anything from Mike Rounds' success as an insurance salesman and his firm's success in real estate in Pierre and Fort Pierre. But Weiland doesn't have to apologize for any lack of meaningful and valuable experience to strongly represent the best interests of all South Dakotans.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.22

    Gee, sounds like Rick (not Weiland!) answered DB's questions pretty well. With all that successful executive experience, maybe we should ask Weiland to pivot to tackle Daugaard in 2014? :-)

    "know-nothing do-nothing career gov't employees"? That seems to be an apt description of Mike Rounds's tenure as our employee in the governor's mansion. But Rick Weiland knows a lot and did a lot when he worked for the government back in the late 1990s. He hasn't worked for government since then, has he?

  8. Jerry 2013.07.22

    It seems to this reader that Rounds did not start a business, he was born into it. Kind of like Romney, not a real businessman, but one that started at the top. Rounds success was inherited, the only thing he is selling is snake oil.

  9. DB 2013.07.22

    So Weiland has little to no experience as a businessman besides what his family has done. Nice. Looks like another lifelong gov't employee. Wonder if he is a part of the 90% or 10%?

  10. Owen Reitzel 2013.07.22

    "So Weiland has little to no experience as a businessman besides what his family has done."

    Neither does Rounds DB. Or should I say what he's done has failed

  11. DB 2013.07.22

    "It seems to this reader that Rounds did not start a business, he was born into it. "

    Your link proves nothing of that sort. Try again.

  12. DB 2013.07.22

    "Neither does Rounds DB. Or should I say what he's done has failed"

    This is funny. Almost laughable really.

  13. interested party 2013.07.22

    what business did bill janklow run? john thune? stace nelson?

  14. DB 2013.07.22

    When all else fails, interject irrelevant people to the conversation.

  15. interested party 2013.07.22

    so we agree that we can't think of three more irrelevant people than the aforementioned?

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.22

    DB, you seem to be confusing the non-profit organizations AARP and International Code Council with government. Are you trying to argue that only people who have run for-profit businesses for more than five years are eligible to run for office?

    Here's the hard fact: Weiland has valuable executive experience in the public sector, the private non-profit sector, and the private for-profit sector. He has a broader résumeacute; than anyone in this conversation.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.22

    And Larry's point is keenly relevant. If there were any merit to DB's assertion that government employees are know-nothing do-nothings unworthy of public trust, then Bill Janklow, John Thune, and Stace Nelson would all be bigger know/do-nothings than Rick Weiland.

  18. DB 2013.07.22

    "so we agree that we can't think of three more irrelevant people than the aforementioned?"

    As it pertains to this discussion, other than yourself, Cory, and

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.22

    And let's not forget, whatever business experience Mike Rounds had did not keep him from throwing tax dollars behind a failed beef promotion program and roping foreign investors into gambling on a now-bankrupt beef plant. How does any of that speak in Mike Rounds's favor?

  20. DB 2013.07.22

    Larry's point is not relevant at all. When citing Rounds is worse than Weiland due to one of his business failures, I fail to see how anyone else is relevant.

  21. DB 2013.07.22

    "Are you trying to argue that only people who have run for-profit businesses for more than five years are eligible to run for office?"

    I'm saying they are more capable and more in touch with the real world. I've never met more incompetent people than gov't employees and professors. They sure know their theory but they have no idea how to apply it. Most buffalo their way to the top.

  22. Bill Dithmer 2013.07.22

    Do we really Mike Rounds representing us in one of the most important offices in our state? Look here.

    With state spending that increased a stunning 53 percent during Rounds’ tenure

    Mike was a good old boy, and it showed in his practice of conducting state business through the use of no-bid contracts to his friends and political cronies. It was estimated at the time that we could have saved at least ten million bucks by bidding those contracts, WTF.

    Under Rounds the number of state employees mushroomed by 1,500 in eight years.

    Rounds hired a lobbyist for DC at the price of a hundred thousand dollars a year. Our people in DC never saw this man, whoever he was.

    "Rounds was such a big spender in state government that seven of the eight budgets Rounds’ submitted were in deficit including the largest budget deficits in state history."

    Rounds was involved in the screwing of your kids to. He saw to it that spending was cut from 39 percent to 31 percent. That is a cut of almost one fourth what it was before he took office eight years before and helped to push us into last place among the states in education.

    "On Rounds’ watch, South Dakota fell to the bottom and ranked last in wages of all states in America."

    Mike made it possible for SD to rank number one in the category of people having to hold two or more jobs to make ends meet.

    College debt, again we're number one compliments of Mike rounds where tuition debt rose fifty percent under his guidance. More dropouts in the first two years then anywhere else, Why?

    At last count Mike took over three hundred million from the federal governments stimulus package and put it into the general fund. He didn't use if for what it was intended.

    Do I really need to continue? I don't like Mike Rounds any better then I liked the convict governor Wild Bill Junklow. At least Junklow did some things for this state, Rounds hasn't done a damn thing except spend our money on his friends. His campaign theme song should be.

    He's going to get em wet one way or another.

    The Blindman

  23. DB 2013.07.22

    Non-profit...another term for standing around acting like they accomplish something while utilizing tax breaks and lining their pockets.

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.22

    Knock off the profit idolatray, DB. Teachers, charity organizers, and the executive of the International Code Council work just as hard as you and Darin Namken and anyone else sitting in an office.

    And speaking of irrelevant, Rick Weiland hasn't been a government employee for over a decade. Mike Rounds was a government employee as recently as four years ago. The only candidate in the Senate race who has been anything like a professor is Annette Bosworth. Stop spewing your simplistic memes and deal with the candidates as they are.

    Now remind me, how does Mike Rounds's promotion of the failed beef and EB-5 policies speak in his favor?

  25. Rick 2013.07.22

    Cory, you make a good point about Weiland's depth of experience and insight to serve South Dakota best in the U.S. Senate. Life has served him well in shaping him for this important job at a time when South Dakota needs an articulate leader for farmers, retired citizens, young families, veterans and rural communities who are ready to grow and prosper. Fate has opened an opportunity in 2014 for South Dakota. I think people are going to discover that Weiland is the right leader whose moment has arrived.

  26. Douglas Wiken 2013.07.22

    Wasn't Rounds old man a lobbyist for the REA or similar organization?

    Rounds is so smart, he practically built a house under water.

  27. DB 2013.07.22

    I really love how you drop names like Larry as if it is relevant. You really show how much of an asshat you really are.

  28. interested party 2013.07.22

    Rhoden? Gabriel? Long? Piersol?

  29. Troy 2013.07.22

    Mike Rounds inherited nothing. His former teacher, coach father who ultimately went to work for a trade association and his stay at home mother raised I think ten kids.

    Wieland and Rounds are both good and successful businessmen. I don't know if Weiland inherited anything, but the Round's family idea of a luxury was only two brothers as roommates, three squares, and only wearing hand-me-downs that were only worn by one brother.

    Let's confine the discussion to what matters: The issues where they disagree and not the personal attacks.

  30. interested party 2013.07.22

    larry dietrich and i went to catholic school together.

  31. Jim 2013.07.22

    Good point Troy. So when do the personal attacks stop over at the SD Water Closet?

  32. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.22

    Personal attacks? DB is the one using the word "asshat" instead of explaining how Mike Rounds did good for South Dakota with his failed beef and EB-5 visa programs.

  33. Jim 2013.07.22

    Troy, to what personal attacks are you referring?

  34. Earl Hanson 2013.07.22

    I tried for a year and a half, to no avail, to find out how much Governor Rounds gave Northern Beef in the form of a grant. This was at the same time that he was cutting state aid to education. Up until now, I have failed to find a legislator who can give me the dollar figure of the grant. Is there anyone out there who knows the exact amount of that grant? It was the taxpayer's money, why the secret?

  35. Tomy Thomas 2013.07.22

    time for you to remove yourself from under stacy nelson desk. dont want you to hit your head, you are a complete joke. someone attacks you, you bitch and moan, but thats all you do on this blog. Pathetic Hypocrite.

  36. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.22

    Points of clarification, TT:

    (1) Whom are you saying is "under stacy nelson desk"?
    (2) What exactly does that mean?
    (3) Why does that bother you?
    (4) What part of declaring the NBP bankruptcy a sign of Mike Rounds's legacy of failure constitutes a "joke" or "pathetic hypocrisy"?

  37. Wayne Gilbert 2013.07.22

    I was reading this thread with fascination until I ran into the moronic: "Non-profit...another term for standing around acting like they accomplish something while utilizing tax breaks and lining their pockets." Really? That's the best you got?

  38. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.22

    I share your dismay, Wayne. It sounds like DB has a bad case of insecurity, having to denigrate other people's chosen professions to make himself feel superior in his chosen profession. Either that, or he's on a mission to ensure that any discussion of Mike Rounds's policy failures is immediately derailed into a shouting match about something, anything else.

    To play into DB's hands, aren't all workers citizens? Don't all citizens from all types of work (public or private, profit or non-profit) bring valuable experiences to discussions of public policy?

    Or to approach the question from another angle, does DB make that comment to whoever comes to his office looking for donations to the local United Way?

    For what it's worth, in his interview with the Madville Times last week, Weiland pointed out that in his position as ICC exec, he was responsible for making sure his organization made payroll for at times over 400 employees. Evidently he always did... which suggests he's a better executive than whatever Friends of Mike are running Northern Beef Packers. (I will keep this thread on its original track. Focus, people! Rounds! Beef! Visas!)

  39. interested party 2013.07.22

    troy: reach out with your mind.

  40. Rick 2013.07.22

    The press wants us to believe this race for an open Senate seat is over. Hmmm. If that is so, why does the "front runner" have challenges from within his own party? Could it be that Republicans know something Democrats can't see? That Mike Rounds spent eight years in the Governor's office and did nothing ... except to dump a debt on Denny Daugaard's lap?

    South Dakotans do not send people to Congress to do nothing. They send them to Congress to make sure South Dakota gets its fair share of that federal pie. Doc Farber used to tell us that.

  41. Jana 2013.07.22

    Tomy, me thinks you protest too much.

    But you might have a point you want to make that is a little more transparent.

    The former governor might do well to bring this discussion to an end. Disclose what he did, why he did it and who profited. Then put it behind him. This is a long campaign and this won't be the first or last he has to deal with.

  42. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.22

    Rick, does Kristi Noem put a dent in Doc Farber's theory? (Dang, there I go veering off topic again! Rounds! Beef! Visas!)

    Stories like NBP should start waking the press up to the fact that we have an open race here. I wonder when Rounds starts revving the Dick Wadhams attack machine to distract us (wait: isn't that what DB was doing? Hmm...).

  43. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.22

    By the way, have I mentioned that I really appreciate Troy's dropping in to knock down DB's distraction and focus the discussion on what matters? Rounds! Beef! Visas!

  44. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.22

    Jana has a point: there is something to be said for learning from one's mistakes. If some enterprising journalist asks candidate Rounds about his involvement with NBP, Rounds's best response would be a frank discussion of what he did, why it didn't work, and what policy changes he might recommend to keep the state from boosting another business that causes 277 creditors (including the taxpayers) to lose millions of dollars.

  45. Nick Nemec 2013.07.22

    Another thing to remember about Mike Rounds is that he's in the hip pocket of the oil industry. His old man was a long time lobbyist for the South Dakota Petroleum Marketers, an oil industry front group. Young Mike was a willing carrier of water for the industry and was no friend of ethanol and bu extension no friend of farmers.

    I know, I know, "Rounds, beef, visas", but there is so much crony capitalism going on it's hard not to shout "Rounds, back scratching buddies, good old boys".

  46. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.22

    Darn you, Nick, for complicating the story! Now I'll have to do a whole nother post on the trouble Rounds will have winning the votes of farmers because of his oil-over-ethanol policies. (I invite guest columns... Nick? Nick! :-) )

  47. gail 2013.07.22

    I only have one question. How much of our hard-earned money is going to be given to this packing plant, as grants to try pull it though again. And why would it work this time. And haven't enough millions been poured into a losing business. But then, this state thinks big ag is success. How many lawsuits against the beef plant? How many lawsuits from the foreign investors on the EB-5? I don't know if anyone can answer those questions either.

  48. Douglas Wiken 2013.07.22

    Mercer had a story today about hidden reserves and money moving around in Pierre which would add about $20 million to the millions already sitting around.

  49. Donald Pay 2013.07.22

    I haven't been in SD for 12 years, but this is one of the reasons I left. It seems even ideas that are good to start with go bust for some reason or other.

    I kind of get tired of people being negative about everything, which may sound funny coming from someone who the powers that be accused of being negative about everything. I'm thinking that this is a project that is worthy of some state effort. It at least had a tie in to the largest SD industry that otherwise was shipping product out of state at considerable cost to be processed. Most economic development efforts go to the usual suspects or some out-of-state outfit that's supposed to save the day. I thought this is more home grown, but maybe I'm wrong about that.

    Reading the history of the project, it had quite a lot of difficulty getting off the ground. I'm just wondering what excuse was given. It couldn't have been the standard "environmentalist" excuse.

    It is far better than other Rounds economic development efforts, and if it went belly up, why did that happen, and can it revived?

  50. Jana 2013.07.23

    Funny how Troy holds up Don Round's public service as a virtue. Much like he has great pride in his own families public service.

    I guess the irony is in how the same public service of the last generation was seen as honorable and compensated well, including a fair benefits package, is now seen by the GOP as a pariah by the same people who benefited so much.

  51. Jana 2013.07.23

    For the 2nd and 3rd generation of public servants in Pierre, I only ask why you think that those that serve today are worth less than when public service was a pathway to a solid and secure middle/working class wage that could support a family is now a bad thing.

  52. Jana 2013.07.23

    I don't know the answer, but how many years of Mike Rounds life were supported by taxpayer dollars? I guess the other question is how much of his success came from being associated with power in Pierre?

  53. Jana 2013.07.23

    Troy, the Rounds family history is great.

    My question is, could they afford to have that many kids and still have a stay at home mom in the world of the GOP's current view of public service? Let alone how we value the service of state employees?

    Would Mike Rounds life have been different given today's prevailing politics?

    I know, these are different times, but you have to admit it's a valid question given the GOP's antagonism towards those that teach, coach and serve.

  54. Jana 2013.07.23

    I don't know a lot about the Weilands, but I do know that they have been instrumental in giving both money and time to restoring the old state theater in Sioux Falls.

    Guess I don't know how Rounds has given back to his community? Has it always been with others people's money that he leveraged to his own benefit? Or has he given back to the community that gave him his start?

  55. Jenny 2013.07.23

    Apparently over at the SD War College asking about the failed NBP is irrelevant according Mr Powers.

  56. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.07.23

    You expected rational, open discourse from DWC. That was your first mistake, Jenny.

    I suspect those 277 creditors who are out between $10 million and $50 million don't find that question irrelevant.

  57. Jenny 2013.07.23

    Don't forget the workers that didn't get their paychecks last week, most of whom probably need them badly to provide for their families. Sigh....only in a GOP Leaders Can Do No Wrong State would this not be considered newsworthy. Thanks Cory, for bringing out the real South Dakota news. The NBP fiasco is ironic considered SD was just voted number one as the best state to do business.

  58. DB 2013.07.23

    "Personal attacks? DB is the one using the word "asshat" instead of explaining how Mike Rounds did good for South Dakota with his failed beef and EB-5 visa programs."

    Name drop to shed a bad light on me or someone else who has nothing to do with this.......and then act like it wasn't personal. Asshat is the least personal I could get.

  59. interested party 2013.07.23

    Typical bully: crying when the victim fights back. How conservative.

  60. DB 2013.07.23

    That coming from Larry is hilarious.

  61. James Snyder 2013.07.23

    So can you clarify for me? Unless the company is successful it should equate to a negative outcome for a former Governor like Rounds? Is that the bar we set? It's no wonder this world is the way it is. YOUR blog is just another example of what is wrong with politics in this country. The minority party in this state has no ideas, its just the party of against the Majority. Your blog represents the same thing. Be part of the solution, not the problem.

  62. interested party 2013.07.23

    When the Right assails a President for similar choices it is perfectly legitimate to remind voters that politics is a tough game: if you can't stand the heat don't fry your eggs on the sidewalk.

  63. Jerry 2013.07.23

    The minority party has plenty of good ideas, one recent one is to raise the minimum wage. Your opinion is what is right with this blog, in that we can agree to disagree and put that out on the table in a logical way so everyone can see where we are coming from. In your case, that is sometimes debatable, but nonetheless, entertaining. Did I clarify that enough for you Mr. Snyder?

  64. Troy 2013.07.23

    Everything I have heard about the Wieland family is positive. Everything I know about the Rounds family is positive. There are many pressing issues to debate. I'm at a loss to understand why our ideological differences would cause us to translate it into personal attacks against not only the candidates but their parents.

    Ask ANYONE in Pierre (regardless of party) and they will only have kind and respectful things to say about Don Rounds. That was a home open to every stray "dog" in town. I ate there many times because I just happened to be in the neighborhood at dinner time. If people think half of me what everyone thinks of Don Rounds, I'll consider my life to be a success.

  65. Douglas Wiken 2013.07.23

    James Snyder must be trying to make a point of something.

    But, blogs that give people the opportunity to post useful information and challenge conventional "wisdom" are valuable and not what is wrong with South Dakota.

    If politicians want to take credit for business success, they should also be willing to accept blame for the failure of their pet businesses heavily funded at taxpayer expense.

  66. Robin Page 2013.07.26

    How about we elect a Senator who has strong ties to the REAL PEOPLE and REAL ISSUES of South Dakota? Seems to me that neither candidate is in touch with the people of our state.

  67. Longhorn Steer 2013.07.30

    In the words of Clara Peller "Where's the Beef ?!!!"

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